J.J. Rhymes scored 25 points in an 81-74 loss to Cowley on Wednesday in Arkansas City. (Joel Powers/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
J.J. Rhymes scored 25 points in an 81-74 loss to Cowley on Wednesday in Arkansas City. (Joel Powers/Blue Dragon Sports Information)

Hutchinson CC Sports Information

ARKANSAS CITY – Shaking off the rust of a 25-day layoff and facing the injury bug, the No. 6-ranked Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team also faced the upset bug on Wednesday night.

Battling back from seven points down to take a one-point lead with 7:53 to play, the Blue Dragons faltered down the stretch as Cowley upset Hutchinson 81-74 on Wednesday night at Scott Auditorium.

The Blue Dragons fall to 12-2 overall and 8-2 in the Jayhawk Conference. The Dragons saw their seven-game winning streak snapped. With Barton's win over Cloud County and the Blue Dragons' loss, Hutch, Barton and Cowley are tied for first place in the Jayhawk.

Tied at 40 at halftime, Cowley continued to stress the Dragon defense and eventually built a 56-49 lead with 13:17 remaining in the second half. Despite shooting only 39 percent in the second half and six second-half turnovers, the Dragons stayed close and finally took a 64-63 lead after two Rob Whitfield free throws with 7:53 to play.

Cowley immediately went on a 10-0 run over the next 2 ½ minutes to lead 73-64 after a Cedrick Rembert field goal. The Blue Dragons got it back within two points at 73-71 with 2:29 left, but Patrick Cairns fired a dagger 3-pointer on Cowley's next possession with 2:07 to go to give the Tigers a 76-71 lead.

Sophomore J.J. Rhymes scored a game-high 25 points with eight assists and seven rebounds to lead the Blue Dragons. After a fast start, Rhymes was 7 of 22 shooting, bug hit 11 of 14 free throws.

Rheaquone Taylor had 13 points and eight rebounds for Hutchinson. Curtis Hollis had 11 points and Kai Mitchell added eight points.

The Blue Dragons were 27 of 69 shooting (39.1 percent). Hutch hit 19 of 27 free throws, but was out-rebounded 45-44, giving up 14 offensive rebounds that led to 14 Cowley points.

The huge difference in the game was 3-point shooting. Cowley hit 10 of 27 from 3-point range. The Dragons were just 1 of 6.

Darnell Cowart had 22 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Tigers. Jeremiah Starks finished with 17 points and Rembert had 13. Starts and Cairns had three 3-pointers each to lead the Tigers.

Hutchinson raced out to a quick 7-2 lead after a Kai Mitchell basket, but the Tigers tied the game up at 9-all on a Starks' 3-pointer with 15:40 remaining. The first half had nine lead changes and nine ties.

Hollis had a layup with 6:39 to play that gave the Dragons a 32-28 lead. Cowley scored six in a row to take the lead back before Rhymes' three-point play returned the lead to Hutch at 35-34 with 2:30 left.

Trailing 40-37 in the final moments of the half, the Dragons got a defensive stop and raced the ball up the floor. Whitfield found a wide-open James Rojas for a 3-pointer at the buzzer to knot the game at 40-all at halftime.

The Blue Dragons return home on Saturday to take on the Allen Red Devils at 7:30 p.m. at the Sports Arena.